John P. Rounsevel, formerly a well-known wool buyer of Claremont, was born in Unity, N.H., January 2, 1815, son of Royal and Betsey (Sweat) Rounsevel. Rounseville, the original spelling of the name, was changed to the present form by Joseph Rounsevel about the year 1768. In 1749 Thomas Rounseville wrote from Ottery St. Mary to Philip Rounseville, of England, who afterward came to this country. He settled in Freetown, Mass., and was called by the townspeople King Philip. His son Joseph, who, born January 3, 1737, died in 1827, went to Washington, N.H., between 1768 and 1772, from Middleboro, Mass., having previously resided in East Freetown. Joseph was a good farmer, a well-read man, and a Justice of the Peace. He executed the legal business of the town, and represented Washington with other towns in the General Court. His children were: Alden, Charity, Phebe, John, Rosamond, and Royal. Alden married Hannah Wells. Charity married Manasseh Farnsworth in 1784. Phebe never married. John married Rebecca Chamberlain in 1768. Rosamond married Thomas Putnam in 1787. Royal’s children were: Joseph, Minerva, Elle I., Lyman, and John P. Of them Joseph, who was born in 1796, and died December 24, 1858, married Betsey Laughton, who had by him five children-Sarah, Harriet, Holmes, Lyman, and Marinda. Minerva, born in 1799, who married John Stowell, had no children, and died in July, 1848. Elle I., born February 15, 1801, who married Orrill Reckard, and had four children-Ellen H., Royal D., Mary, and William -died September 19, 1852. Lyman, born November 7, 1805, married Sarah Sparling, by whom he became the father of seven children-Thomas Eaton, Vienna Elizabeth, Lyman Eaton, Homer S., Almira, Diantha S., and William Ashton.
Royal Rounsevel, the father of John P., born in Washington, this county, in 1772, married Betsey Sweat, of Unity, who died January 22, 1837. He was well educated for the times, and taught school in Weare, N.H., for some years. He finally gave up teaching for a farmer’s life, and in middle life moved to Unity. A Quaker in religious belief, he Unity. While an earnest member of the sect, he was a man of quiet disposition and a good neighbor. He died September 17, 1829, leaving five children. These, with the exception of John P., were for many years residents and farmers of Sullivan County, where they were born. Lyman, who was a drover for thirty years, spent the last twenty-five years of his life in the occupation of tanner; and during his stay in Unity he was for two years a member of the legislature.
John P. Rounsevel, the youngest son of his parents, was well educated. He attended school at Chester and Cavendish, Vt., and later at Meriden and Unity, N.H. In Unity he was under the instruction of Dr. Miner. It was designed to send him to college, but his impaired health caused the plan to be given up. At the age of seventeen he entered the profession of teacher; and he subsequently taught in both public and private schools in Charlestown, Acworth, Unity, and Claremont. He had spent two years teaching in La Grange, Ga., when his health succumbed to the warm climate, and he returned to schoolteaching in the North for another year. He then tried travelling for his health, and sold clothes and other merchandise. In 1850 he went to California, and there was variously occupied in mining, farming, and trading among the miners; but he returned home sick in 1852. In 1854 he became a merchant in Littleton. From there he removed to Claremont in 1858, and there carried on a dry-goods business for nine years. He then took up the clothing business, and finally that of wool-buying, which he commenced when the Civil War was in progress, and in which he was very successful. He was with the Keene Company, of Keene, N.H., for ten years, and in 1890 gave up his business to his son. For thirty years he was a Director of the Sullivan Savings Bank, and its Vice-President for many years. Mr. Rounsevel married Sarah Jane, daughter of Eaton Bailey. Eaton Bailey, son of John Bailey, lived in Unity, and was a farmer and drover. Before her marriage Mrs. Rounsevel was a pupil of Mr. Rounsevel, and she subsequently taught school for one term. Their only child, Charles W., born June 25, 1856, who is the station agent of Newport, N.H., married Alice Sargent, and has one child, Henry H. Mr. Rounsevel, Sr., was a legislative Representative for two years. He died May 1, 1897, regretted as a loss to the community.